New York Commuter Train Hits SUV, Killing Vehicle’s Driver and Five Train Passengers: Who Is at Fault?

On February 4, 2015, a New York commuter train collided with an SUV that was stopped on the tracks, resulting in multiple injuries and six deaths. The railroad crossing at which the accident occurred was marked with crossing signs, lights, and a sign directing drivers not to stop on the tracks. According to at least one eyewitness report, the crossing gate had come down on the SUV as it was crossing the tracks and the driver exited the vehicle to lift up the gate; she then proceeded to cross the tracks rather than backing up. The crash resulted in an explosion and fire when the electrically powered third rail penetrated the train.

Negligent drivers frequently cause traffic accidents and resultant injury and death. The Killino Firm has extensive experience with cases arising out of traffic accidents caused by negligent drivers or defective vehicles. If you have been injured or one of your loved ones has been killed in this manner, contact The Killino Firm for more information about your legal options.

Who May Be Held Liable for Injuries and Deaths Caused by Drivers’ Negligent Crossing of Railroad Tracks?

train car crashNew York’s railroad crossing statute requires drivers to stop not less than 15 feet from the nearest rail when a crossing gate is lowered, an audio or visual signal is given of an oncoming train, or when a train approaches within 1500 feet or issues a warning sound and the train’s proximity is a hazard. According to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation, the train was traveling 58 mph in a 60 mph zone, and the engineer braked and sounded a warning horn when he saw the SUV blocking the train’s path. Another witness reported that the crossing lights were flashing as the SUV’s driver lifted the gate and continued across the tracks. Though investigations into the accident’s cause are ongoing, early indications suggest that the SUV driver may be ruled at fault.

If the driver is found to have violated the crossing statute, she may be found negligent per se in an action brought by an injured passenger or deceased passenger’s survivors. Even if her actions are not found to have been in violation of the statute, she may still be found negligent and, thus, legally responsible for injuries and deaths determined to have been caused by her negligence. In this case, the SUV driver’s proceeding across the tracks rather than backing up may be found to constitute negligence causal of the accident, even if the initial attempt to cross is not.

Obtain Legal Assistance from The Killino Firm, P.C.

The Killino Firm’s personal-injury lawyers are dedicated to achieving justice for those who have been injured or killed in preventable automobile accidents. If you have been injured or one of your family members has died due to another’s negligent driving, The Killino Firm can help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.